I’m being harsh on Posada. He hasn’t really declined yet. Dude put a 133 OPS+ last season. He was a large contributor to a World Series victory. Replace Posada with his backup, Jose Molina, do the Yankees win? Probably. One player won’t make a huge difference on a 103-win ballclub. But, obviously the loss would hurt. Hitters like Posada don’t grow on trees.
The point of this piece was to look into Posada’s future, and how better to do that then with Baseball Prospectus’ marvelous PECOTA system. PECOTA is, shall we say, bearish on Posada. They peg him for a .263/.355/.445 line (hardly end-of-the-world, but a decline without question) and suggest he’ll be hurt again–only 348 PAs.
That isn’t surprising. Posada’s got a lot going against him: age/wear and tear, position, his injury issues of late.
How much more can the Yankees reasonably expect out of Posada? Another season like 2009 is unlikely. The Yankees do realize he’s nearing the end, don’t they?
I think so. I’m leaving the realm of statistical analysis for this next part, but bear with me.
Remember all the talk about budgets with the Yankees this off season? Brian Cashman wasn’t totally blowing smoke this time. The Yankees don’t need a budget, in that they cannot be outbid when they actually want a player.
The Yankees weren’t outbid for Johnny Damon or Hideki Matsui. They simply wanted neither. Sure, they’d have brought Damon back for a season, but not for much money.
Nick Johnson was a perfect fill-in at DH. It’s a 1-year deal, and it’s cheap. Why was that perfect? Well, he’ll hit a little and hopefully won’t get hurt just swinging the bat. But there’s another reason.
I think the Yankees are banking on Joe Mauer hitting the market. (Take that in. Shouldn’t be surprising.)
The Yankees will have an obvious void that they cannot fill from within–Jesus Montero will rake, but he’s not better than Joe Mauer and isn’t likely to be anytime soon. Montero’s future as a Yankee still seems to be trade bait, but I don’t know for who or when.
Just like in 2008, the free agent market could (key word) present an excellent fit.
Sign Mauer to a big deal (Mark Teixeira-ish, probably). Let him be your catcher, give Johnson the boot and let Posada finish out his deal at DH. If he complains–Posada’s a little proud, rightfully so–let him know that Mauer’s the best in the game, and with him catching and you DHing we can win a title. That ought to calm Posada down; if not, show him the WARs and HRs and MVPs and perhaps that’ll do it.
But, oh, what do I know. I’m just talking, honest.
But remember the last time the Yankees had a void? They had 3, actually. That worked out well, no?
There could be a snag. What if Posada rakes again?
Can the Yankees, an aging club, really pass up the chance to ink a young superstar (if Mauer is available)? I don’t think so.
What I’m about to write will probably offend some Yankee fans, but so be it.
If Cashman has to piss Posada off in order to make the team better–a lot better, potentially–then do it.
Maybe Posada would understand. Mauer is obviously the best catcher in the game, which means he’s obviously better than Posada. Posada could extend his career as a DH–his shoulder and hamstring injuries can both be attributed to a career of catching.
It makes sense both ways. The Yankees gain an MVP-caliber player and Posada gets to extend his career.
Signing Mauer is as big a no-brainer as there could be. Even if it meant cutting Jorge Posada, True Yankee, it’d be worth it.
Yankee fans would forget right after Mauer goes 3-3, HR, 2 BBs and scores 4 runs against the Red Sox the first time, don’t you think?
In the end, the Yankees can’t be about loyalty. They showed Posada a ton of loyalty in giving him that big deal at the end of his career. The Yankees are about winning, and Posada’s helped. He’s got a hand full of rings, might go into the Hall and will almost certainly have his number retired.
Needless to say, he won’t be forgotten should they move him off catcher in favor of Joe Mauer.
Now, a few things about the posting above. First of all, I don’t agree with everything Adam wrote, but I wanted to run it because it’s good to get different points of view. My POV isn’t always right. Some other things/comments:
- I hope Mauer stays in Minnesota. It’s important to have home grown guys like Mauer to remain with a club like the Twins. The fan base is so strong and the attachment to Mauer is just so great. As much as any fan of any team would LOVE to have Mauer, he belongs on the Twins his entire career.
- I’d be reluctant signing ANY catcher to a deal the size of Teixeira’s. The length is scary. Catchers do get hurt. They do wear down. And remember, too, that Mauer has already had lower back surgery. Of course, he came back from it and had the year he did last year.
- I’m tilting optimistic on Jesus Montero. He’s only 20. His power projects (80 on an 80 scale). He has a solid arm. With another year of training in AAA, perhaps the rest of his defensive game can catch up (no pun intended) to his offensive prowess. Wouldn’t it be great to transition from a home-grown Posada to a home-grown Montero and have those two catchers take you from the mid-1990’s to the mid-2020’s? Think about that for a moment. If Montero becomes the full-time catcher in 2012 and plays a dozen years, you’re into the mid-2020’s. Eerie.
- I don’t think Posada is done yet. Yes, he’s 37, but he didn’t become the full time catcher until his mid/late-20’s. He was sharing time with Girardi for the first several years. If you peek at his B-R page (just come back, ok?), he didn’t play full-time until he was 28 (2000 season), when he was in 151 games. The two years prior was a majority, but not a full-time, situation with him appearing in 111 and 112 games, respectively. So, while his chronological clock is in the Eastern time zone, his playing clock is still in the Western time zone.